Bitter food often gets a bad reputation for being less fun to eat than purely sweet or savory options. However, according to research, those who enjoy chowing down on things like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens are more likely to not only maintain a lower weight, but also have overall better health.
It’s not exactly the most surprising information considering we get a lot of nutritional value from those types of veggies. But the same goes for bitter sips, such as an earthy green tea or dark chocolate cocoa. A few studies have also pointed out that having a natural preference for bitterness is more commonly found in people with lower body mass index (BMI).
Although it’s easy to assume those who avoid bitter food are put off by the taste, it’s not as simple as being grossed out by a pile of steamed broccoli on their plate. Recent studies from Food Research International and Disease Markers found that many people with higher BMI are actually less sensitive to the bitter flavor. Basically, it just tastes “blah” to them and doesn’t give any pleasure while eating it, so they tend to ignore it.
The trouble really comes with what folks who can’t taste the bitterness as much decide to snack on instead. As researchers point out in Current Developments of Nutrition, that often leads to a higher intake of food with lots of saturated fat. You can’t deny these are often the tastier options, but can obviously lead to issues with weight management and other health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
So are you doomed to be overweight if you hate bitter food? Of course not! First of all, it’s easy to find ways to make bitter options taste less “blah.” Try cooking leafy greens and veggies with healthy fats and swapping natural, nutrient-rich sweeteners in with sugary snacks. You might also want to try oven-baked citrus chips, which balance the bitterness of the peels with the sweetness of the fruit.
Whatever you choose, just remember it’s always important to be mindful of what we’re fueling our bodies with — and that there are plenty of deliciously healthy ways to do it!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First For Women.